Starring Robert Burke, Nancy Allen, Jill Hennessy, Rip Torn
Directed by Fred Dekker
Distributed by Scream Factory
People die in Hollywood all the time – figuratively and otherwise – but it was on November 5, 1993 that a particularly painful death occurred: that of writer/director Fred Dekker’s career. That fateful day saw the release of Dekker’s RoboCop 3 (1993), a movie that managed not only to kill a franchise but any future prospects for nearly the remainder of Dekker’s budding career. In fact, aside from some work on “Star Trek: Enterprise” (2001-2002) the only thing he’s done since is scripting duties on the upcoming The Predator (2018) for his former roommate Shane Black. After delivering two of horror’s hottest cult titles ever, with Night of the Creeps (1986) and The Monster Squad (1987), Dekker should have been cranking out genre pictures and ascending to his place as one of horror’s elite. Why he never didn’t go back to low-budget horror filmmaking after the abysmal failure of RoboCop 3, I’ll never know but, man, of all the “what ifs?” in this industry it pains me to wonder what he might’ve done.
But, then again, he did do RoboCop 3 and he has been quoted as saying that any and all fault people find with the film belongs in his lap, since the studio and everyone else up and down the production line gave him the go-ahead to see it through his way. Although, it is also known the studio wanted a “softer” RoboCop since his primary audience was kids (likely due to 1988’s “RoboCop: The Animated Series) and they felt a PG-13 rating would allow a younger crowd the chance to see him in action. I’m sure the possibility of a greater payday by opening up the potential audience was a consideration, too. Regardless, Dekker’s film is a toothless tale of altruism, with RoboCop spending most of the film helping the homeless, while the over-the-top violence and spitting satire take a far back seat… like, in the trunk.
Detroit is beginning to look more and more like a post-apocalyptic wasteland – in the movie, although that sentence is scarily applicable to 2017 Detroit, too. OCP is struggling to realize its Delta City vision due to the failure of the RoboCop program and subsequent brush with bankruptcy. The company decides to employ Urban Rehabilitators, “Rehabs”, to help speed up the gentrification of the city, forcing residents out of their homes and onto the streets, although OCP claims the Rehabs are there to supplement the waning police force. In order to facilitate their growth, OCP sells out to the Japanese Kanemitsu Corporation, a company who employs a robot enforcer of their own, called “Otomo” (Bruce Locke).
One night, during a stop to check on squatters staying in a rundown church RoboCop (Robert Burke) and Lewis (Nancy Allen) are confronted by the Rehabs who open fire, killing Lewis and damaging RoboCop. The resistance fighters take in RoboCop and give him a place to rest up until Dr. Lazarus (Jill Hennessey), one of RoboCop’s creators, is able to come and perform necessary repairs – including the deletion of Directive 4 which prevents RoboCop from acting against the Rehabs or any employee of OCP. Didn’t he erase those directives in the last movie? Anyway, RoboCop gets spruced up, dons a fancy new set of wings, and flies his metal ass out of the sewers and onto the streets, where a fierce battle between the resistance/police and OCP is underway.
There is so much this film gets wrong that to list every infraction would basically be a rundown of the entire plot, line by line. But here’s where it lost me entirely: the loss of Peter Weller. Sure, Burke kinda looks like Weller if you drink a six-pack and squint your eyes but in terms of speech and mannerisms you just don’t feel like you’re watching the same character. They almost would have been better of either suggesting this is another RoboCop (which probably would’ve been dumb) or keep the helmet on the entire time and have Weller do some ADR work. His commitment to Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch (1991) is the reason given for his absence, and it sounds legit, but his voice really made a world of difference.
Even disregarding the lack of Weller Power, the film is a tragic bore. I don’t want to see RoboCop caught up in a gentrification battle and aiding those less fortunate any more than I wanted to see Rambo fortify an Afghani village and its residents in Rambo III (1988). Yes, I am aware RoboCop’s main directive is to protect the innocent and uphold the public trust, but I want to see him doing it while blasting mf’ers away left and right. Here, he’s a neutered dog with a cone around his neck, laid up for half the running time.
If there is any consolation here, it is found in Basil Poledouris’ return to the composer’s chair. The main themes, a salient absence in RoboCop 2 (1990), make their triumphant return and are virtually the only thing that prevents this movie from looking like a big-budget fan film. If you aren’t much of a film score geek then chances are this won’t matter much but for those of us who feel a stellar score can greatly improve even a poor film this is a much-welcomed return.
A number of returning faces appear here, too, as they did in the previous entry. That sniveling worm Johnson (Felton Perry) is here once more, although The Old Man is no longer OCP CEO; that honor is now bestowed upon Rip Torn, whose character has no name and is credited as “The CEO”. There are a lot of new faces, many of whom went on to greater success (more so than this??), including Stephen Root, Daniel von Bargen, C.C.H. Pounder, Mako, and Bradley Whitford. Even still, these commendable character actors can only do so much to sell this half-baked live-action Saturday morning cartoon. RoboCop deserved a better send-off than this. At the very least – and this is damning with the faintest of praise – it’s better than the uninspired RoboCop (2014) remake.
Unlike RoboCop 2, this film did not receive a new scan and so the 1.85:1 1080p image is the same one found on MGM’s previous Blu-ray. This isn’t such a bad thing, as the last release featured a strong image with great clarity, organic film grain, consistent color saturation, and few instances of dirt & debris. And, you know, given that the film isn’t exactly a celebrated cult classic there wasn’t much reason for Scream Factory to waste money on a new transfer when the existing master was already in great shape.
As with the previous film, RoboCop 3 has an English DTS-HD MA track available in 2.0 stereo and 5.1 surround sound. Dialogue levels are nicely balanced and always clear, gunfire has a good sense of direction but weak impact, activity bursts from different corners of the room when required… but the real standout here is the return of Poledouris, who brings back all of RoboCop’s stirring themes and classic cues. It’s just a shame he didn’t provide them for a better film. Someone needs to do a fan edit of RoboCop 2 with this film’s score. Subtitles are available in English.
There are two audio commentary tracks to be found here – first, with co-writer/director Fred Dekker; second, with the “RoboDoc: The Creation of RoboCop” team.
“Delta City Shuffle: The Making of RoboCop 3” – Expect to find some revealing interviews with Fred Dekker, Nancy Allen, Bruce Locke, etc. here. While some express disappointment in how the film has been received this isn’t the dump fest I was expecting.
“Robo-Vision: The Effects of RoboCop 3” – Again, Phil Tippett and the major special effects players on the picture sit down to discuss what they achieved on-screen for this sequel.
“The Corporate Ladder – Interview with Actor Felton Perry” – Johnson is up to his old ways, once again.
“Training Otomo – Interview with Actor Bruce Locke and Martial Arts Trainer Bill Ryusaki”.
“War Machine – Interview with RoboCop Gun Fabricator James Belohovek”, discusses the weapons seen in the film.
A theatrical trailer and a still gallery are also included.
- NEW Audio Commentary with director Fred Dekker
- NEW Audio Commentary with the makers of “RoboDoc: The Creation of RoboCop” documentary – Gary Smart, Chris Griffiths and Eastwood Allen
- NEW Delta City Shuffle: The Making of ROBOCOP 3 featuring director Fred Dekker, actors Nancy Allen, Bruce Locke, producer Patrick Crowley, cinematographer Gary Kibbe and production designer Hilda Stark (38 minutes)
- NEW Robo-Vision: The FX of ROBOCOP 3 featuring Peter Kuran, Phil Tippett, Craig Hayes, Kevin Kutchaver and Paul Gentry (12 minutes)
- NEW The Corporate Ladder – an interview with actor Felton Perry (11 minutes)
- NEW Training Otomo – an interview with actor Bruce Locke and martial arts trainer Bill Ryusaki (8 minutes)
- NEW War Machine – an interview with RoboCop gun fabricator James Belohovek (9 minutes)
- Theatrical Trailer
- Still Gallery